Irrigation water makes an important contribution to agricultural productivity and food security; however, it is becoming a gradually scarce resource. This growing scarcity turns out to be even more substantial in climate change condition. On the other hand, erosion is a challenging problem not only since it leads to productivity losses, but also because it is related to desertification and rural poverty. As a consequence, conserving both water and soil are two of the most vital issues in water-constrained region such as Firoozabad plain.
Materials and Methods
To provide a more comprehensive understanding of challenges surrounding the adoption of soil and water conservation (SWC) practices, this study investigates the impacts of economic, social, human, and financial variables as well as those of the individual properties of farmers on the adoption of SWC as a joint decision, using a Seemingly Unrelated Bivariate Probit Regression (SUBPR) model. Socioeconomic and production information were collected on a sample of 204 farms randomly selected in 8 villages. The result of diagonality test indicated that the residual terms of the two equations are correlated, which leads support to the use of the SUBPR model. In other words, SWC is a joint decision.
Results and Discussion
Result also showed that 43.6% of farmers adopt water conservation, 44.1% adopt soil conservation and 24% adopt both. In the water equation, seven coefficients (out of 10) are significant at the 5% level or higher. Education, age, farm size, off-farm activities and access to credit, have positive and significant effects on the likelihood of adopting conservation. In contrast, family size and the number of land plots have negative and significant influences on adoption. In the soil equation, five coefficients (out of 11) are significant at least at the 5% level. Educations, farm size, family numbers working on farm and crop rotation have positive and significant effects on adoption. In contrast, Family size has a negative and significant influence. Finally, the result obtained from the equation for the case of joint adoption showed that farm size, education, access to credit, off-farm activities and family members working on-farm are important variables associated with the adoption of conservation measures.
The findings of this study could help to improve the understanding of farmers’ behavior regarding conservation, and thus help the development of incentives and instruments focusing on soil and water programs.
Based on the results, especially in the field of factors affecting the acceptance of water and soil resources protection activities, the following suggestions can be made:
- Since the dispersion of farms has a negative effect on the acceptance of conservation activities, land consolidation can be effective in protecting water resources, so it is recommended that this plan be done more carefully.
- The size of the farm has a positive and significant effect on the acceptance of conservation activities. Hence, the law of inheritance leads to smaller farms, it is necessary to somehow prevent the size of farms.
Off-farm activity on the one hand reduces the pressure on resources and on the other hand is effective in accepting water conservation activities. Therefore, creating such opportunities for farmers can be effective in the sustainable development of agriculture.
- The level of access to credit and banking facilities is effective on the acceptance of water resources protection activities, so it is recommended that more credit be allocated for this purpose.